Lyle Nichols says his favorite part of owning a truck with a towering cow attached to the back was seeing the faces of other drivers as the cow peeked its head over the hill on a two-lane road.
"The best part was the surprise," he said.
The fiberglass cow is a staple of the Grand Valley, previously living at the old Prime Cut restaurant at 12th Street and Orchard Avenue in Grand Junction. Nichols bought the cow at auction and converted it into a motorhome with two couches and a bed in the belly of the cow.
"I had dreams of putting it in my hay patch and letting people sleep in it," he said.
Now, the longtime artist, who has a treasure of pieces and materials at his home on East Orchard Mesa, is selling the truck. His asking price is $15,000. Nichols bought the cow at an auction roughly 15 years ago and it sat in his yard for a while before he got to work. The project of attaching the cow to the truck, decorating and everything else took about three months. The driver's-side door says "moo" in large letters. Inside, there are license plates from places such as Panama on the ceiling.
He bid on the cow when it was at auction because he didn't want it to leave the Grand Valley, he said. And he still doesn't. In fact, he's already talked a man from Connecticut out of buying it because he was worried about him making the cross-country trip.
"It's an icon to the Grand Valley. A lot of people don't want to see it leave. I don't either. I think it would be great for a business or political campaign," he said at his home this week in an interview with The Daily Sentinel.
People from outside the Grand Valley may also remember seeing the truck on an episode of American Pickers on the History Channel. Nichols was featured on the show in April 2016 and the show's stars bought several of Nichols' items, but they couldn't strike a deal on "Cowzilla," as they called it.
The truck, which is either a 2000 or 2001 GMC 3500 — Nichols doesn't remember which year — still runs well and can go at least 60 miles per hour.
"I didn't have the nerve to go any faster," he said.
The truck comes as is with all the furniture inside and even the University of Nebraska mudflaps, which Nichols said complement the truck well and make his neighbor — a Cornhuskers fan — happy. The only thing a buyer would not receive is Nichols' driver's license, he joked.
The cow looms 13 feet, 2 inches off of the ground. It's street and highway legal since it is under 13 feet, 6 inches.
Nichols. 70, said he hopes to sell most of his pieces at his home within the next five years.
He's basically retired from making commissioned art pieces. Some of this work can be found in downtown Grand Junction and out in Fruita. He's also responsible for carving the floral designs at the Trinity United Methodist Church, a well-known cathedral in downtown Denver.
As for selling the truck now, he said he doesn't get to drive it much and when he does, he gets a lot of attention at gas stations, which he used to enjoy. But now, he said, everyone wants to take a picture with the truck.
To contact Nichols about the motorhome, visit lylenichols.com.